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The Lovers - (The Criterion Collection)
The Lovers
The Criterion Collection
Actors: Jeanne Moreau, Alain Cuny, Jean-Marc Bory, Patricia Garcin, Michèle Girardon
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama
UR     2008     1hr 30min

A married woman flees her upper-middle class life with a young stranger.


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Movie Details

Actors: Jeanne Moreau, Alain Cuny, Jean-Marc Bory, Patricia Garcin, Michèle Girardon
Creators: Henri Decaë, Johannes Brahms
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Love & Romance
Studio: Criterion Collection
Format: DVD - Black and White,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 05/13/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/1958
Theatrical Release Date: 00/00/1958
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Black and White,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 19
Edition: Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: French
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Woman's sexual freedom = scandal!
Reader | Boca Raton, FL | 08/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It is amazing to see the film made in late 50s and realize that this film has caused a stir all over the world, US included. In the Midwest, this film was considered obscene and it is the Supreme Court that granted this movie not be equaled with pornography. Made in black and white, this Malle's film is even more artistic in today's era. Story is about a upper middle class married woman who lives in provinces (Dijon) with her newspaper editor husband. She lives seemingly comfortable life in a large house, with full time nanny and servants. Her husbands pays her very little or no attention, he is cold and emotionally unavailable. They sleep in separate bedrooms. To find some amusement, young wife Jeanne goes to Paris to visit her married childhood friend who mingles in high society. It is there that she finds a lover, well-to-do polo player who she sees regularly until one day her husband decides to put a stop to her trips to Paris and have his wife's "friends" come a visit for the weekend. He is determined to re-establish his dominion over his household and of course, his wife. It is in preparation of this weekend, that Jeanne's car breaks down on the road and she gets a ride from the handsome, young stranger to her home. As a token of gratitude, young man is invited for a supper and to spend a night in the house before he takes off to his destination the next day. Frustrated that she cannot be with her lover, and outraged by her husband's possesive behavior, Jeanne wonders outside her bedroom at night, in the garden, where she and her mysterious savior find each other. Before long, they realize strong attraction between them and make love in the garden and her bedroom. Jeanne is sure she has found her soulmate and decides to leave everything behind: her young daughter Catherine, the big house, jewelry, clothes, everything. In the dawn of the new day, as house guests are getting ready for the fishing trip, Jeanne and her lover leave house never to return again. I do not believe that it is lovemaking scenes alone that made this film scandalous at the time. This woman is almost like D.H. Lawrence's wife, who left her comfortable upper-middle class life of a wife and a mother for the big unknown with a much younger man. All she is certain of is that she wants to be with a man she has met and there is no price to it. She will sacrifice everything for her own happiness no matter how short, or long that happiness will last. I have enjoyed watching interviews from a film director, actors and screenwriter and find film utterly beautiful and powerful, 50 years after it was made. It is a film that celebrates woman's sexuality and her power to make her own choices."
Astounding, no other word for it.
Arnold Cusmariu | 11/17/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Had someone asked me to name the most romantic films of all time before seeing what I think is Louis Malle's masterpiece, I would have said "Last Year at Marienbad" or "L'Atalante" or "Rules of the Game," all French (of course). Well, "The Lovers" is now on the top of my list and will stay there for a very long time -- because it is highly unlikely someone of Malle's caliber will come along any time soon, or of the caliber of any of the New Wave geniuses who were part of his generation (which is too bad). And just think, Malle was only 25 when he made "The Lovers"!

As he himself admits in an interview shown on this DVD, the film is a love letter to Jeanne Moreau, which she herself knew perfectly well and is the reason everything is worked out so beautifully. More than one director has fallen in love with her, namely Truffaut and Bunuel, but this is different. Malle clearly adored Jeanne Moreau. He made this film to render her immortal. He had no way of knowing what would happen later in her career and probably felt this was his one chance and wasn't about to let it slip away.

This film was enormously successful and caused a scandal. Many of the reasons are obvious -- this is 1958, after all -- but there is one reason I want to point out that Malle himself isn't entirely explicit about in one of the interviews. He admits he wanted to keep the camera on Jeanne as she experiences an orgasm (maybe for the first time) instead of the usual sound effects while camera filmed ... the window. An orgasm induced how? The bedroom scene has Bernard on top of her kissing her on the mouth, then kissing her neck, then her breasts, and he just keeps on kissing as he moves further and further down Jeanne's body -- which is implied but not shown. When she climaxes, Bernard is not on top of her, pumping away -- the bed does not move -- but between her legs. In 1958 this must have seemed absolutely outrageous. Malle caught a lot of flack because of it, to which his response was "good, I must have been doing something right." (Apparently, a Cleveland theater owner got arrested for obscenity in a case that eventually went to the Supreme Court!)

One reason this film is so original is that we don't find out who the title refers to until quite late; in fact, Malle deliberately misleads the audience into thinking that the Spanish polo player is that lover. And when she meets the real one, Bernard, which happens entirely by accident, they don't hit it off at all; he says he dislikes intensely all the people she likes, takes his sweet time getting her home knowing guests are waiting, and makes rude comments about her husband. So, what did he do right that struck a chord? I won't spoil it by answering.

Five stars are the most the system allows, though I would gladly have given twice that many."